Years before the launch of Ethereum , a faction of its principal founders banded together with seasoned policy professionals, energy sector executives, and PhD-holders to explore meaningful usage cases for blockchain. Energy, they concluded, was a sector crying out for the nascent technology.
Dr. Ana Trbovich , Co-Founder and COO of this long-lasting alliance, Grid Singularity, explained to CryptoSlate how her decentralized energy project was planning to bring to fruition the widely idealized smart, green, and distributed global energy ecosystem.
“Not a Typical Startup”
For Switzerland-based Grid Singularity , decentralization is the next step for energy.
In a market where renewable, distributed systems of production, microgrids, and peer-to-peer trading are poised to supplant industrial-grade, centralized energy generation, Trbovich explained that her team figured out early that blockchain was the answer:
“Decentralization is very important because electricity data is also private data, and advocating that, and building apps on top of each other the way that blockchain does, is the only way to move forward.”
Just as 2016’s whirlwind of early dApp projects began to take hold, however, Grid Singularity decided that no blockchain was yet equipped to deliver their envisaged energy data exchange ecosystem, and that they could be left waiting years for the “appropriate core technology” to roll along. Even in 2018, Trbovich maintains the bulk of blockchain projects remain stuck in the proof-of-concept stage as a result.
Yet it was this technological gridlock, she explained, that gave rise to Grid Singularity’s existential mission: to build the very technology it believed companies would need to “come to commercialization sooner” and use blockchain to revolutionize the energy sector.
Having partnered in 2016 with the Rocky Mountain Institute, a US nonprofit promoting renewable energy and sustainability, Grid Singularity co-founded the Energy Web Foundation (EWF) in Switzerland and started work on the Energy Web Chain —an open-source blockchain “specifically designed for the energy sector’s regulatory, operational, and market needs.”
And with core members consisting of Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood, Parity Technologies co-founder Jutta Steiner, and a team of similarly talented blockchain developers, Grid Singularity appears to have hit the ground running in its mission to build “the one” dApp platform for energy.
Europe: The World’s New Silicon Valley?
Two years on, Grid Singularity would seem decidedly close to entering the fray.
With a live Proof-of-Authority, Parity Client-based test network, Trbovich maintains that the project’s mainnet “open, decentralized energy data exchange platform” will grace the market with a number of commercial applications when it launches in mid-2019.
Both startups and “very innovative” corporates, like Singapore Power, are apparently intent on using Energy Web Chain, with a number of parties in France and Germany building “quite a range” of dApps including renewable energies certification and trading, shared charging for electric vehicles, demand flexibility, home-management applications, and billing, Trbovich said.
But whatever impact Trbovich—also a professor at the European Institute of Innovation and Technology—believes the project will have on the market, she seems to think it will be some time before regulators give the green light to the project’s “most exciting” usage case, peer-to-peer energy trading. She stated:
“It’s understandable that the regulators want to make sure that energy is traded safely. Everyone needs to be very careful about this, and it will take a while some time to put the legal and the technical together for the most constructive application of blockchain.”
A number of governments are dabbling with the regulatory sandboxes that would facilitate the “radical” shift to peer-to-peer energy markets, Trbovich said. However, she has her money on Europe as the future leader of innovation—not only as a continent with a “culture of supporting clean, green tech,” but as the stomping ground of core Ethereum developers.
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